Day 15 – Surah Attawba (Repentance)

Surah tawba (chapter # 9) gives guidance on how to deal with specific political challenges as a community. It was revealed in the wake of two major incidents that happened towards the end of Prophet Muhammad‘s life (PBUH):

  1. Pagan tribes broke the peace treaties that they pledged to follow with the Muslims  
  2. The battle of Tabuk, one of the last battles that the Muslim army fought during the life of Prophet Muhammad PBUH. The hypocrites, in addition to some righteous Muslims, did not participate in the battle, and the Surah addressed some of the concerns that were raised at that time. 
Show No mercy – Leave Door Open for Tawba

This is the only Surah in the Quran that did not start with “بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم”. The tone of the discussion is very harsh on those causing trouble in the land (hypocrites, pagans, and blatant enemies); one can think of those people as the “terrorists” of the early Madinah community:

كيف و إن يظهروا عليكم لا يرقبوا فيكم إلا ولا ذمة
How, when, if they were to get the upper hand over you, they would not respect any tie with you, of kinship or of treaty? [9:8]

Hence, from the very beginning, Allah did not use His beautiful names of mercy and compassion to address them, but started immediately with:

براءة من الله و رسوله إلى الذين عاهدتم من المشركين
This is a declaration of a release by Allah and His Messenger from the treaty you believers made with the idolaters [9:1]
Despite all that, the Surah was named At-tawba “repentance”, and is the number one Surah to use the word “tawba” and its derivatives in the whole Quran (17 times). It gives us a beautiful image about our Deen: even when it comes to those who don’t deserve any mercy, Allah’s doors of repentance and forgiveness are wide open:

فإن تابوا وأقاموا الصلاة و آتوا الزكاة فإخوانكم في الدين
If they turn to God, keep up the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, then they are your brothers in faith [9:11]

The Non-apologetic Answer to “The Verse of the Sword – [9:5]”

Those who associated the Quran with being a “terrorist book” constantly refer to the following Ayah and – obviously – take it out of context:

فَإِذَا انسَلَخَ الأَشْهُرُ الْحُرُمُ فَاقْتُلُواْ الْمُشْرِكِينَ حَيْثُ وَجَدتُّمُوهُمْ وَخُذُوهُمْ وَاحْصُرُوهُمْ وَاقْعُدُواْ لَهُمْ كُلَّ مَرْصَدٍ
When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever you encounter the idolaters. Kill them, seize them, besiege them, and wait for them at every lookout post…  [9:5]
You can easily debunk this myth by using the “zoom out” approach; The Ayah before prohibits fighting those who did not engage in any terrorist attitude against the Muslims:

إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّم مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُواْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّواْ إِلَيْهِمْ عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَى مُدَّتِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ
As for those who have honored the treaty you made with them and who have not supported anyone against you: fulfil your agreement with them to the end of their term. God loves those who are mindful of Him. [9:4]
The verse after [9:6] allows the enemies to learn about Islam even at times of war:

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّى يَسْمَعَ كَلامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لاَّ يَعْلَمُونَ
Prophet, If any one of the idolaters should seek your protection, grant it to him so that he may hear the word of God, then take him to a place safe for him, for they are people with no knowledge of it [9:6]
Tawba from Not Supporting the Community

One of the nicknames of this Surah is “the exposure” because it exposed the hypocrites and all the trouble they were plotting against the Muslim community. Please read these Ayahs with an open heart and reflect on what needs to be done to avoid being associated with the hypocrites (e.g. being lazy to answer the call to prayer)

وَلَوْ أَرَادُواْ الْخُرُوجَ لأَعَدُّواْ لَهُ عُدَّةً وَلَكِن كَرِهَ اللَّهُ انبِعَاثَهُمْ فَثَبَّطَهُمْ وَقِيلَ اقْعُدُواْ مَعَ الْقَاعِدِينَ
If they had really wanted to go out to battle with you, they would have made preparations, but God was loath to let them rise up and made them hold back. It was said, ‘Stay with those who stay behind.’ [9:46]
وَمَا مَنَعَهُمْ أَن تُقْبَلَ مِنْهُمْ نَفَقَاتُهُمْ إِلاَّ أَنَّهُمْ كَفَرُواْ بِاللَّهِ وَبِرَسُولِهِ وَلاَ يَأْتُونَ الصَّلاةَ إِلاَّ وَهُمْ كُسَالَى وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ وَهُمْ كَارِهُونَ
The only thing that prevents what they give from being accepted is the fact that they defy God and His Messenger, perform the prayer only lazily, and give only grudgingly. [9:54]
The believers are encouraged to support their community and not be left behind:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَا لَكُمْ إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمُ انفِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ اثَّاقَلْتُمْ إِلَى الأَرْضِ  
Believers, why, when it is said to you, ‘Go and fight in God’s way,’ do you feel weighed down to the ground? [9:38]
Those who didn’t participate in the battle due to lack of resources were excused:

وَلاَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ إِذَا مَا أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لاَ أَجِدُ مَا أَحْمِلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ تَوَلَّوْا وَّأَعْيُنُهُمْ تَفِيضُ مِنَ الدَّمْعِ حَزَنًا أَلاَّ يَجِدُواْ مَا يُنفِقُونَ
And there is no blame attached to those who came to you [Prophet] for riding animals and to whom you said, ‘I cannot find a mount for you’: they turned away with their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they had nothing they could contribute. [9:92]
As for those who were mixed good deeds with bad deeds, Allah announced that He will forgive them:

وَآخَرُونَ اعْتَرَفُواْ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ خَلَطُواْ عَمَلاً صَالِحًا وَآخَرَ سَيِّئًا عَسَى اللَّهُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
And there are others who have confessed their wrongdoing, who have done some righteous deeds and some bad ones: God may well accept their repentance, for God is most forgiving and merciful. [9:102]
The Best Day of Your Life

Three of the righteous companions did not answer the call of duty and remained in Madinah without any valid excuse. They were honest and did not lie to the prophet PBUH about their situation, but they had to be boycotted by the community for 50 days. It was a very harsh social punishment on them, but the aim was to protect the unity and the sense of belonging in the minds and hearts of the Muslims. At the end of that period, Allah revealed those beautiful verses:

لَقَد تَّابَ اللَّه عَلَى النَّبِيِّ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ وَالأَنصَارِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ فِي سَاعَةِ الْعُسْرَةِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا كَادَ يَزِيغُ قُلُوبُ فَرِيقٍ مِّنْهُمْ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِنَّهُ بِهِمْ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ. وَعَلَى الثَّلاثَةِ الَّذِينَ خُلِّفُواْ حَتَّى إِذَا ضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ وَظَنُّواْ أَن لاَّ مَلْجَأَ مِنَ اللَّهِ إِلاَّ إِلَيْهِ ثُمَّ تَابَ عَلَيْهِمْ لِيَتُوبُواْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ
In His mercy God has turned to the Prophet, and the emigrants and helpers who followed him in the hour of adversity when some hearts almost wavered: He has turned to them; He is most kind and merciful to them. 118 And to the three men who stayed behind: when the earth, for all its spaciousness, closed in around them, when their very souls closed in around them, when they realized that the only refuge from God was with Him, He turned to them in mercy in order for them to return [to Him]. God is the Ever Relenting, the Most Merciful. [9:117-118]
Kaab Bin Malek, the most famous companion among the three who were left behind, heard those beautiful words from prophet Muhammad PBUH:
Here’s the good news of repentance for you, oh Kaab! This is best day of your life since you were born!
Indeed, the best day in our life is the day when we open a new page with Allah SWT, and we seek forgiveness from all of our previous sins
Action Item:

If Allah offered to accept the repentance of those who challenged Him and fought his messenger PBUH, do you think that you and me are to be deprived from His mercy? It is about time that we all repent to Allah and start a new life of worship and leave whatever bad habits we used to do.

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